Working from home-7 quick tips

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During these unprecedented times, much of the workforce has moved to a remote option and are working from home for the foreseeable future.  For a lot of people, this is a new challenge and they’re trying to navigate all of the pitfalls of working from home.  Here are a few quick tips to help you adjust to this new normal:

  1. Have a dedicated workspace– This is critical to maintaining productivity.  Don’t set up shop on your couch, or on your bed.  Areas like these will lead to decreased productivity and have too many distractions.  If you can, avoid the kitchen table as well.  Most houses have the kitchen table in a “high traffic” area and it’s hard to minimize house noise from your kitchen table.  If you’re able to, find a space in your house that is least likely to have visitors and is away from distractions.
  2. Get in the right mindset, have a routine– Working from home, it’s easy to quickly fall into a routine of rolling out of bed, grabbing some coffee and logging on.  If your schedule allows it, spend some time in the morning (perhaps some of the time your daily commute normally takes) getting mentally prepared for work.  Take a shower, get out of those PJs.  Help your mind shift from sleep to work.  Similarly, at the end of the work day it’s easy to keep working and checking emails all night long.  Allow yourself to set a time where you’ll walk away and shift your mind from work back to your home life.
  3. Set boundaries with your family- If you have your family at home with you like many of us, especially with young kids, working from home can be hard.  It’s important to set boundaries with your family.  Share your schedule with your significant other so they understand what times during the day you’re in meetings or otherwise unavailable.  For me personally, I have an “open door policy” at home.  If my office door is shut, it means I’m on a call or otherwise unavailable.  If my office door is open, I can answer one of the 5,000 questions my kids have each day.
  4. Be available- This part is important.  Don’t allow the stress of working from home to creep into your family life.  Don’t shut yourself off entirely for 8-9 hours a day from your family.  That isn’t fair to them and will lead to more frustrations.  Find a balance that is fair to your family and fair to your business.
  5. Understand the realities– You won’t be able to drown out all the background noise if you have a family at home with you.  Don’t let that frustrate you.  If you’re hosting virtual meetings, inform your colleagues that there may be some background noise.  We’re all in this together, and we all understand.  You may find yourself smiling at all the crazy hectic noise coming from your house.  After all, they’re who you are working for.
  6. Watch out for increased productivity– Believe it or not, you may find yourself being more productive working from home.  If you’re able to avoid the pitfalls of working from home, like: laundry, taking an afternoon nap, checking out Netflix, building a LEGO castle, etc. you’re likely to find that you will get more work done at home.  There are no co-workers coming to your office for a 20 minute conversation (that starts about work and by the end you’re not sure what you’re even talking about), there are no water cooler meetings to eat into your day.  You can end up being more efficient, if you’ve followed the above steps.
  7. Be thankful- Many people aren’t able to work from home.  Some folks have to work on site, which is scary right now.  Other folks are out of work entirely, which is even more scary.  If you’re working from home, you’re fortunate to be able to still support yourself and your family.  Be thankful for that, I know I am.

Be safe.  Be productive.  Be kind.  Check on your neighbors and loved ones.  Wash your hands!  We’ll get through this.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

Why Candidates Should Act Like Recruiters

First- I want to apologize for my hiatus from posting on this site!  The new job, getting married, getting a house, having the house flood 3 weeks into ownership, writing blogs for a careers site outside of my own personal page, my wife and I having our first child… it all played into my vacation from writing.

I’m now coming up for air and this morning as I was responding to an email it dawned on me that I have a great topic to write about.  The email I was responding to was an inquiry from a recruiter from a large tech company that wanted to know if I was interested in a recruiting job for them.  While I’m not currently on the market, I still wanted to take the time to network with the recruiter.  In fact, I try to take the time to respond to each and every job inquiry I get.  At first I thought this was just professional courtesy- kind of like how I typically will over-tip the bartender or a waitress/waiter since I started off in the service industry and I know their pains.  However, as I was connecting with this individual, I realized that I wasn’t just doing it as a professional courtesy.  Recruiters send out hundreds of inquiries a week and I’d be willing to bet that less than half of the candidates they reach out to respond to their inquiries.  So me not responding wouldn’t hurt  this recruiter’s day, and they’d find plenty of other candidates to talk with about their opening.  So I wasn’t responding to this recruiter just because I felt obligated to, I was responding to them for my own personal gain.

I realized is that I always respond because I am building my own professional network.  I don’t just mean adding another contact to my LinkedIn connections either.  I found myself also going out of my way to refer individuals to opportunities I wasn’t interested in, and trying to help the recruiter who contacted me.  Subconsciously I think I felt that helping them out would give me some good professional karma.  At the very least, if I ever found myself in a position where I needed them in the future I could leverage the fact that I networked with them and possibly referred one or two candidates to them.

This is the type of networking that I’m always preaching about on my site.  Now, before I get too deep into this post I want to clarify something.  The title states “why candidates should act like recruiters”, and you’ve probably already deduced that I’m going to use responding to inquiries as the act that candidates should follow.  Before I receive all the comments, tweets, and emails about how recruiters NEVER respond to inquiries- I want to put in this disclaimer:  I don’t group applications to job postings and inquiries into the same bucket.  They are fundamentally different.  When a candidate clicks ‘submit’ on a job board, there isn’t really a personal touch there.  However, if they talk to a recruiter in person, via email, phone, text message, social media, etc. that is where the personal touch comes in.  That is the type of inquiry I’m writing about.  That is the point in your relationship where great recruiters, and great candidates, should keep in touch.

Great recruiters rely on their network to fill their openings first, before they rely on job postings or having to source through job boards/social media, etc.  While most recruiters receive more applications than they could possibly respond to, the great ones make sure to keep a file of all the candidate’s they’ve spoken to.  Some people call these hot books, leads, tickle systems, silver candidates, etc.  Whatever the terminology, they represent those individuals that you have some sort of a professional knowledge and relationship with.  The reason recruiters pulse their networks first before sifting through hundreds of resumes is because it’s faster, more reliable, and has a much better success rate.  The familiarity with the individual, or the person that referred them, makes the process go a lot smoother.

In the same sense, as a candidate, you should work to be as responsive as you can.  Granted, you may become frustrated when a recruiter reaches out to you for a particular job that either you’re not interested in or aren’t the best fit for.  Or maybe it’s a job you are a fit for, but now isn’t the best time.  Or maybe it’s located in an area you can’t relocate to.  Regardless of the reason that this isn’t the job for you, don’t let it sully the potential of a future professional relationship for you.  Just like a recruiter’s greatest tool is their professional network, the same can be said for a job seeker.  Whether you’re currently on the market or may be in the future- your professional network will be your greatest tool for employment.  Keeping those interactions professional and friendly will ensure that you can revisit that well in the future.  When you are entering your job search, pulsing your network first before you systematically begin to apply to dozens of jobs online will save you a lot of time.  Just like this is faster, more reliable, and has a higher success rate for recruiters it has all of the same benefits for you as the job seeker.

A savvy candidate will create their own network file, with all of the recruiters or hiring managers that they’ve spoken to over the years.  Having built up this book of business, they can always reach out in their own time of need.  Additionally, if they have a friend or colleague who is looking for work- they can refer them to their network.  People won’t quickly forget when you’ve helped them out professionally or took the time to build a working relationship with them.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

Life Lessons in Recruiting and Rugby

If you read my blogs regularly, by now you’ve probably figured out that I draw a lot of my content from my own personal life. I reflect on experiences that I have had and try to draw life lessons out of them. What can I learn from my experience and how can I apply that lesson to other areas of my life? Following that theme, this post is going to discuss a lesson I learned in high school at age 18 and how I am applying that knowledge to my current job at age 31.

The lesson I learned came during my senior year in High School.  I attended Loyola Blakefield in Towson, MD (Roll Dons Roll!).  For most of my time at Loyola I played on the football team.  However, during my senior year a young Jesuit priest in training who played Rugby in college decided to try to form a club team at Loyola.  I had a brother-in-law who played Rugby at Mount St. Mary’s University and I knew I wanted to play Rugby at the Mount too, so I tried out for the team.  This was my first introduction to rugby and I, like everyone who tried out, didn’t have a strong grasp on the game.  We were a rag tag group of guys who wanted to try something new.  No other High Schools in the area had a rugby team back then, so we found ourselves having to travel down to DC a lot to find matches.  During our first match I still didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect, much less any idea of what a good play looked like.  I was the captain of the team and thought that I  was expected to know everything about the game.  That scared me, because all that I really  knew was that if we moved the ball in one direction it was good and if we moved it in another direction it was bad.  Anyone in a different color jersey holding the ball was going to get tackled.  I knew what the boundaries were, I knew how the pitch was lined, and I knew how I could and could not interact with other players.  The life lesson came a few minutes into that first match.  I was running around like crazy, not really sure if we were playing well or not.  Everything seemed to be moving so fast and I was trying to make sense of it all.  At one point one of our guys recovered the ball from the other team and kicked it down field…and the crowd erupted!!  At that moment the game slowed down a little for me.  As we continued to play we fed off of the energy of the crowd- when they cheered we knew to keep doing whatever we were doing.  And when they let out a boo or a groan we knew we needed to stop doing whatever we were doing.  We knew just enough about the game to lean forward and we let the feedback of our fans guide us.  We ended up winning that first game too!

Fast forward 14 years and here I am finally applying that lesson.  The lesson popped in my head this morning during a conference call between me, my boss and our Director.  Don’t worry, it was a good call.  Back in October of last year I wrote a piece on how it was important to always lean forward and not become complacent in our careers.  I mentioned that my career growth areas of interest were Staffing Strategy, Forecasting, Operations and Leadership.  Eerily enough a few months after I wrote that piece I accepted a new role within the same company as a Staffing Operations Lead in our Staffing Strategy and Operations group.

The call this morning was a monthly call we have set up to discus our progress and growth of our brand new Staffing Strategy and Operations team.  Most of us are in new roles, even though we’ve all been with the company for a long time in one role or another.  We came together and formed this team at the beginning of the year.  Our Director mentioned during the call that it’s always hard when you start a new task or join a new group to get the lay of the land up front- and that a lot of times trial and error are the best teachers.  She is also new to our sector and was discussing some of her challenges with expectations and how to measure success.  She has received a lot of positive feedback about our team but was still mapping things out.  As she spoke I found myself thinking back to that Rugby game all those years ago.  I mentioned to her that when you start a new role or join a new group, it’s kind of like playing a new sport for the first time.  You have to listen to the crowd a little to get your bearings and set your compass for success.  Listening to that feedback will allow you to identify areas for improvement as well as areas that you excel in.

Seeking out feedback is how we grow professionally and learn how to better perform in our roles.  We can’t be afraid to take on a new role or join a new team due to the unknown.  Just like playing a new sport for the first time, as long as you know the boundaries of the job and the direction you need to head in, the feedback will guide you.  You just have to be sure to listen to those cheers and learn from them!

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

 

How to Fit a Square Peg Into a Round Hole

Last week I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Recruiting Trends Conference held in Alexandria, VA.   The conference was a three day event jam packed with Recruiting Industry experts sharing their best practices. This included opening remarks by Dr. John Sullivan and presentations from experts at companies such as: NASDAQ, Linkedin, Glassdoor, Simply Hired, Deloitte, Time Warner Cable, Northrop Grumman, The National Security Agency, The Adler Group, The Sourcing Institute, Shahid Wazed International, Employment Screening Resources, TalentRISE LLC, Cognizant, and International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS).

This was a great opportunity for me to listen to some of the best local and nationally renowned recruiting minds. I always cherish any opportunity to get out and interact with the thought leaders in my industry. I typically find that these types of events (like the upcoming RecruitDC Spring event) really invigorate me personally and professionally. I come away from these events feeling rejuvenated about my trade and ready to test out my newly sharpened tools.

Spoiler alert: This new found jubilee doesn’t always last very long. Tell me if this example sounds familiar- you come back from one of these Recruiter Networking events skipping and whistling, full of promise. You have all your notes from the event and you’re ready to turn your organization’s approach to recruiting on its head! Then you check your email and you have 20 fires to put out and you still haven’t checked your voicemail. Your hiring manager is wondering where their perfect candidate is and why another candidate hasn’t accepted their offer and then your security officer is asking you why another candidate never took their drug test while three other job seekers are asking you why you haven’t found them a job yet. Before you know it you’re fully immersed in the daily muck a recruiter has to wade through.

By the time you get your chance to talk to management you’re exhausted. You try to state your case anyway because you know the full value of what you’re proposing. In a previous blog post, I spoke about the importance of keeping your leadership informed about what you’re seeing on the front lines. You read that post and you know how important this is to the success of not only your career but also your company’s competitive advantage in their market.

You know your current methods of recruiting aren’t producing a winning product. However, because you’re exhausted, you essentially regurgitate everything you learned all at once. Management, now feeling overwhelmed, doesn’t see the value in your proposals for process change. They believe that when it comes to recruiting processes thinking outside the box is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Just fill the current open positions, that’s what you need to do for success. The “just in time” mentality your company has about recruiting seems to be an undefeatable mindset. You go back to being just another order-filler because, as management says, you just can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.

A few years ago this used to really get me down, and it wasn’t until the next Recruiter Networking event that I’d start to feel good again. However, as I’ve grown and progressed in my career I actually figured out the secret. You can in fact fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s actually rather easy. For the purposes of this post, the round hole is your company’s overall recruiting strategy and the square peg is the process or idea that you want to implement.

Here’s the secret: start with a smaller square peg. It’s that easy. Don’t try to take an idea the same size as your overall recruiting strategy and cram it in, it simply won’t fit. However, if you start small it’ll fit with plenty of wiggle room.   Implement the best practices you learn in small beta rounds. Lars Schmidt once told me that he called this approach his “pilot approach”. Management is much more receptive to an idea if you tell them you’d like to pilot it first. There isn’t as much risk involved and they know they can pull the plug at any time with no commitments on their end. They aren’t overwhelmed by too much process change all at once.

You can then begin to gradually grow your process or idea so that the square peg grows. If you are fluid in your approach, it will naturally adapt and change form to fit into the confines of the round hole. Just as water expands to fit the shape of its container, your new process will adapt to fit your company’s overall recruiting strategy. This method of small installations will allow you to take that high you get from Recruiter Networking events and infuse it into your day to day. You can take charge of your recruiting career and turn it in the direction you know is best.

For me personally, I have pages of notes that I took from the 2014 Recruiting Trends Conference and I am already plotting my course to implement a few of the best practices I learned…one step at a time.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

Fishing, Recruiting, and Social Media

We live in an exciting and turbulent time.  The industrial age has given way to the Knowledge Age.  People are increasingly paid for their ideas and not their brawn.  The reason for this transition is because of the boom of technology over the past few decades.  We are witnessing history, an unprecedented rise of technology.  There is so much promise in this boom, so much good that can come from it.  Of course, as with any major change, there is resistance and some negative connotations.  Some of the outward appearances may seem to suggest that technology is having a negative impact on our society.

The next time you’re out in public, take a moment to look around.  Everyone is face down in a smart phone, their faces radiating from the glow of their mobile world.  In an awkward pause in conversation, watch how quickly people will check their phones to escape the situation.  Watch when someone is out with a group of friends and they break away to order a drink.  While they wait, instead of striking up a conversation with a stranger at the bar they will start swiping away on their phone and wait in quiet solitude.  To an outside observer, one would think that society has fallen into a dark time where human beings don’t interact with strangers and can’t be bothered by other people they don’t know.  To a degree this is probably true.  We as humans should unplug from time to time and practice the age-old art of verbal communication.  It’s important to learn how to interact with strangers and hold a conversation.  It’s a skill we’ll always need, regardless of how progressive technology becomes.

However, despite how it may seem all is not lost.  Society is more connected now than it has ever been…and that is due to technology.  The internet has linked us all, and Social Media allows us to communicate with strangers around the globe.  Those introverts who are slaves to their smart phones are actually more engaged with strangers than ever before.  The sheer volume of strangers you have access to trumps the amount of strangers you’d be able to interact with in an elevator, in a grocery store, at a sporting event, on a train, bus or in any other public place.

Companies have certainly taken notice of this boom in Social Media, because being able to reach more people equates to more revenue.  In a Harvard Business Review it was found that 58% of companies say they are currently using social media and 21% say they are preparing to launch initiatives.  That’s 79% of businesses already engaged with social media!  Of those companies actively using Social Media, 92% of them are using it to recruit.

In a previous blog I spoke about the constraints of online job boards and how job seekers should utilize other avenues to network with potential future employers after they’ve applied to a job.  Job Seekers are doing just that, flooding the Social Media scene.  56% of Americans have a Social Media profile.  They leverage these social media platforms to learn more about the companies they’re interested in, to increase their own branding, and to engage the recruiters in conversation.

As recruiters, we’ve certainly followed suit and are increasingly turning to social media to find our Purple Squirrels.  That’s what we as recruiters are good at.  We adapt as the market adapts.  We’re hunters, not trappers.  Part of what drew me to recruiting was my love for fishing.  A good recruiter shares the same attributes as a good fisherman.  In both disciplines, you have to be patient, you have to be smart, and you have to act deliberately.  If the fish aren’t biting, we move on to a new spot and switch up our technique.  The same theory applies to recruiting.  First it was word of mouth recruiting, advertising in newspapers and dialing numbers out of phone books to see who would pick up.  Then it was fax machine resumes.  Then it was online resume databases and sourcing on job boards.  NOW its social media.

However, just because we know there are fish in the water doesn’t mean we’re going to catch them.  Especially if we focus all our efforts in the wrong area.

LinkedIn is fantastic and a great professional networking site.  A recent HubSpot survey found that LinkedIn is 277% more effecting at lead generation than Facebook or Twitter.  LinkedIn is responsible for 64% of all traffic coming to corporate websites through social media channels.  LinkedIn gains 2 new members per second.  These stats are dominating.

However, LinkedIn doesn’t have as many return users as Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and Facebook.  What recruiters are noticing is that a lot of profiles on LinkedIn are actually outdated and the information held in the profiles is inaccurate.  Yet we still almost exclusively use LinkedIn to recruit.  94% of Recruiters are active on LinkedIn, and only 36% of job seekers are active on LinkedIn.  A recent study done by Jobvite produced some pretty fascinating data.  The disparity between how Recruiters and Job Seekers utilize Social Media was shocking to me.  Recruiters use LinkedIn 94% of the time, vs. Job Seekers who use it only 36% of the time.  Recruiters use Facebook 65% of the time and Job Seekers use it 83% of the time.  Recruiters use Twitter 55% of the time vs Job Seekers 40% of the time.  Recruiters use Google+ 18% of the time vs. job seekers 37% of the time.

So we as Recruiters keep fishing in the LinkedIn pond while all the Job Seekers are taking the bait on other platforms.  In fact, 76% of social job seekers found their current role through Facebook.  It’s time that we adapt again and follow the job seekers to the other platforms.

So the next time you’re working a particularly frustrating requisition and you just can’t seem to find the right candidates, consider switching up where you’re fishing.

“Trust your intuition, it’s just like going fishing, you cast your line and hope you get a bite.” – Paul Simon

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

The Front Line Contribution

I was on a panel recently for RecruitDC and the topic we were discussing revolved around positioning yourself as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your field.  It was a fascinating discussion and I really enjoyed the knowledge sharing.  I was honored to be able to share some of my experiences and best practices with the RecruitDC audience and to converse with some of the leading experts in my field for the D.C. Metro area.  I found that I got a lot out of the experience- and wanted to share some of that with you here.  Specifically I wanted to focus in on one of the questions that we discussed:  What specific steps or tactics have you used to exert influence on best practice implementation?  For example: changing the process based on your experiences and what you see from the front line?

I talk a lot in my blogs about setting yourself apart, becoming a SME in your field.  One of the most effective ways to do that is by inserting yourself into process improvement for your organization.  It is so beneficial to both you and your organization.  If you see room for improvement, come up with a value added idea that you can pitch to your leadership.

We may not realize it, but those of us on the front lines of our business have a distinct advantage over our Directors, VPs, and CEOs when it comes to process improvement.  They rely on intel from the front lines to run their business and ensure they are headed in the right direction.  The front line is the spear used for driving their business forward.  It’s also the best defense against potential pitfalls in their business and can act as an early warning system.  So it makes sense that the best leaders are open to suggestions for improvement.  Great companies are not only open to suggestions for improvement, but they actively solicit their front line for new ideas.

Being on the front line and thinking about suggesting process improvements to your leadership can be intimidating.  Maybe you think that you’re just a cog in the machine, and not capable of any major changes.  Keep in mind that even the tiniest rudder is capable of steering an entire boat.  Or maybe you’re afraid that if you speak up you’ll be seen as a “busy body” or a “know-it-all”.  That is a real risk you run if you do not properly prepare first.  However, if you prepare – if you really put together a strong case – you’ll be seen as much more than a busy body.  You’ll be seen as the SME that you are.

You know how to recruit, and you know what works and what doesn’t.  So why wouldn’t you take advantage of being on the front line and having that firsthand knowledge?  I have little sympathy for those recruiters who complain about processes they have to follow, yet offer no suggestions on how to improve those processes.  Keep your leadership informed of their staffing operations.  Let them know what your operation does well and what it can improve on.  Getting out of your comfort zone and suggesting process improvements will benefit you in a number of ways.

It will allow your leadership to see you as a SME and a trusted partner.  It will show that you’re not only interested in coming in and fulfilling your job description, but more importantly that you’re interested in improving their business.  Not only is it beneficial to how your leadership views you, but it is also beneficial to your day to day activities (and your sanity).  Think about the top 2-3 processes you have to do each day that you know could be done more efficiently.  How much smoother would your work day go if you implemented those changes?

What I’ve found with my own career is that these don’t need to be earth shattering revelations.  They can be small process improvements here and there.  Small process improvements can have huge results in the long term.  So get involved.  Take ownership of your career and your day to day activities.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on twitter @RecruiterMann23

Beware: The Complacent Career!

They say that “A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss”.  I believe that to be a fitting adage when speaking about one’s career.  In the interest of relating this post to my own career- I’m going to talk specifically to recruiting.  But it’s important to realize that while I’m relating this to my own career- this pertains to all careers regardless of what profession you’re in.

In recruiting it’s so very important to have standardized processes and routines.  Successful recruiters create daily schedules that they strictly adhere to.  If you aren’t structured as a recruiter, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed with your work and “in the weeds” so to speak.  Sticking to a routine allows us to prioritize our tasks and systematically cross them off one by one.  There are countless books, articles, blogs, trainings, etc. dedicated to this topic.  I couldn’t agree more with the idea.  When I rely on my old school “To Do” list written on a  notepad I’m much more effective.  I firmly believe it’s important for us as recruiters to be set in our ways and follow a routine that works for us.

However, I am writing this post to point out some important side notes to be aware of.  While being set in our ways is a good thing in terms of structure, organization, and daily routine- it can be a bad thing for our overall career growth.  Far too often I’ve seen recruiters who are successful with these standardized processes fall into the trap of becoming complacent in their roles.  You can blink and 5 years go by, and you’re still sitting in the same chair filling the same orders.  Before I go further into this, I want to make sure that I clarify myself here.  If you’re a long term recruiter (like I am) and you’re reading this you may take offense to me suggesting that recruiters who have been in their roles for awhile become complacent.  I’m certainly not implying that long term recruiters are complacent, rather I’m suggesting that doing the same thing day in and day out can lead to a complacent career.

My comment about sitting in the same chair filling the same orders 5 years from now is more of a warning to keep pushing yourself.  It’s far too easy for a recruiter to grow complacent and just wait on reqs to come in.  After awhile doing the same job day in and day out becomes second nature to us.  This is how our careers become stagnant and grow the proverbial moss that the rolling stone warned us about.  Its much harder, albeit much more rewarding, to push ourselves towards goals that promote career growth.  Take your daily to-do list and add a few bullet points on there each week that are actions aimed towards your career goals.  Whether that’s taking on additional responsibilities at work, asking for a more diverse work load, working towards a promotion, networking/learning from company leaders and mentors, or even something as simple as writing blogs.  Make a conscious effort to keep pushing yourself forward.  Very rarely will your career have the benefit of someone else pushing  you to grow without you first showing interest.  Chances are that your clients/hiring managers would be happy to have you fill their openings for a long time to come, because you’re good at that and you fulfill their needs.  Let’s face it, they might even like to see your career with a little moss on it, that means all of your focus goes to them and you’re not spending your time in other areas outside of their business.  There’s a comfort level there.

For me, that comfort level goes both ways.  My clients/hiring managers become comfortable with me and in turn I become comfortable with them and their work.  I love my current role, and I tend to be pretty efficient at it.  It’s not too unrealistic for me to imagine being in this same chair 5 years from now still doing the same (comfortable) work.  It’s fun work, it’s challenging work, it’s interesting work AND I have great hiring managers to boot.  “Current Me” is very pleased with this role and I have no real complaints.  So why change that?  Why mess with how content Current Me is?

The reason I’m forced to keep pushing myself is because, despite how comfortable Current Me is, there’s an unavoidable warning coming from “Future Me”.  Future Me is screaming and shouting for me to keep pushing myself and to aspire to do more.  Future Me knows that by settling into a routine that doesn’t challenge me I am putting the brakes on my career growth.  Future Me knows that if he is going to be happy and have all the things he wants for him and his family, then Current Me needs to push hard.  I have to work daily to not only complete the tasks at hand, but also find a way to grow myself professionally and work towards my career ambitions.  That is a tough task to step back and look at, because I already work so hard to complete my current job.  How am I expected to find more time to pursue my career growth areas of interest like: Staffing Strategy, Forecasting, Operations and Leadership?

The answer is fairly simple:  one step at a time.  By adding 1-2 tasks each week that relate to my career growth I have turned that into part of my routine.  I have integrated those ambitions into what I do every day, and they are now one in the same with my routine tasks.  Future Me and Current Me are working together nicely (although Future Me still won’t give Current Me any hot investment tips).  Excelling at my current role, coupled by my continued pursuit for advancement has positioned myself nicely for career growth.  It hasn’t been an easy path for me, and I’m sure it won’t always be easy for you either.

To mimic how I opened this post, I’ll close it with another great adage: “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”.  Don’t slow down and allow your career to slip into a comfortable mediocrity.  When you catch yourself sitting back and relaxing, lean forward and push a little harder.  It’s not always fun, and sure…sometimes you’ll want to fight yourself…but in the end you’ll realize that Future You was right all along and your persistence was worth the struggle.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on twitter @RecruiterMann23

Recruiting: Sell or Die

I was reminded this week how important it is for a Recruiter to be able to sell.  As a spoiler alert (and I’m ashamed to admit his) I was unable to close a candidate this week.  I have a particularly tough position to fill (high level, niche specific, very technical, sensitive environment).  I was able to find a great candidate, get an interview set up and get him an offer, however I was unable to get him to accept my offer.  Being the analytical person that I am, I went back through the whole process to see where I slipped up.  It came down to the sell, and so I analyzed my understanding/execution of selling.  I found my results interesting, and wanted to share them here.

As a Recruiter, being able to sell is an essential skill which is critical to performing our job.  A recruiter’s success is based on how good we are at selling.  One of the first things I learned when I became a Recruiter was that you had to sell in all facets of the job.  If you’re great at finding talent but not great at closing the deal, you’re merely a Sourcer who is good at boolean searches.  You’re easily replaceable if you can’t sell.

A true Recruiter is someone who can recruit from inception to completion.  A true Recruiter can act in a consultative manner to determine the scope of the opening with their hiring managers, then go find the talent, get them to interview, then convince the talent to take your opening, and finally keep the talent happy in their new role.  The better a Recruiter is at selling sometimes is directly reflected in how he/she is compensated.  That is where a lot of my brethren get tempted by dollar signs and go wrong.

Recruiters get a bad reputation because of how obsessed we are with selling.  We follow the “ABC” method, always trying to close the deal as quickly as we can.  I’ve heard Recruiters so many times push the candidate in the direction that benefits the Recruiter, but not necessarily the candidate.  There is so much fluff, so many inflated promises which turn out to be nothing but hot air.  As a job seeker, how many times have you heard “Just accept this salary now, and once you get your foot in the door you can move up.”  That sounds neat, and the Lottery Ticket buyer within me wants to believe that, but in reality there is no guarantee you’ll see a quick raise.  In reality it may take you years to move from the salary the recruiter sold you on to the salary you originally wanted.

Recruiters who focus solely on closing deals give the rest of the Recruiting community a bad name.  We get that Used Car Salesman Reputation, and have a negative stigma assigned to us before we even talk to a candidate.  I can’t tell you how many times candidates are hesitant to talk to me because of my job title.  Pushy Recruiters make it very hard on the rest of us.

However, I’ve learned to use this to my advantage.  I allow it to act as a differentiator that separates me from other Recruiters.  I still sell.  I sell every single day and I close deals daily.  But I take a different approach to selling.  The only thing I focus on selling upfront is myself.  I sell myself as a valuable resource to the candidate.  It is critical as a Recruiter to separate yourself from the other dozen Recruiters who are also calling that candidate.  You have to build a relationship with them, show them the value of working with you, and earn their trust.  You won’t be the first person, nor the last person, who will try to sell them the same or a very similar product.  So you have to show them the value of working with you.

Once I’ve built that rapport and have earned the candidates trust, then I can focus on moving on from selling myself to selling my product.  In order to properly and efficiently sell your opportunity to the candidate, you must have a deep understanding of three main areas:  Understand your company, understand your competition, and most importantly understand whats important to the candidate.

By really focusing on the latter of those three areas, I am showing the candidate why they should work with me.  I’m finalizing the sale of myself as a valued asset.  I concern myself with them and what’s important to them.  I am not trying to push my job on them, and I’m not trying to hang up the phone the moment I realize they aren’t a fit.  Understanding what is important to the candidate gives you an inside edge to close the deal.  You sell the aspects of your job that appeal to what they want.  Don’t sell an SUV to someone shopping for a Coupe.

I know what you’re thinking…here I am talking about methods of selling for Recruiters- yet in the beginning of this post I mentioned that I failed to close a deal.  Stick with me, here is where I tie it together for you!

After the candidate told me his final decision I asked him to share with me the determining factors.  Why had he selected the other job over mine?   For my own edification, I wanted to know where I had failed in my sale.  (Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, it is the only way you’ll learn from your mistakes). I had built such a strong rapport with him that I felt comfortable asking him that candid question.  And more importantly, he felt comfortable sharing his feedback with me.

We systematically went through each aspect of the offer, from salary to benefits to PTO to work environment, etc.  The reason he selected the other offer was simply based on numbers, they had a cherry on top that I wasn’t able to match.  It had nothing to do with my sale and there was nothing I could have done better to convince him.  I appreciated that and told him I wanted him to do what was best for him and his family.  We spent another 10 minutes on the phone together after he turned me down.  He went on to tell me how impressed he was with me as a Recruiter.  Since he was on the job market he dealt with dozens of Recruiters and none of them showed him the attention that I showed.  He said he never felt pressured with me, he felt like he could bounce ideas off of me and he saw me as an Industry expert.  That is when I learned that I hadn’t failed in selling to him.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  I’ve added a strong addition to my professional Network, and he has already referred some of his Network to me.  I did not get to place him in my opening, but the relationship I built with him will allow me to place multiple openings in the future vs. just this one now.  (I have two other candidates interviewing for the slot he turned down, don’t worry!)

If you’re on the Staffing Agency side, you may scratch your head a bit at my approach.  How can I consider it a success that I didn’t get the placement?  Why on earth did I spend so much time with this candidate when it didn’t result in an immediate placement?  I was on the Agency side for 5 years and I understand how hard closing the deal is pushed on Recruiters.  It is ingrained in us to close as many deals as we can as quickly as we can.  However, I’d urge you to be careful there.  Don’t focus so hard on filling your position now that you end up hurting yourself professionally in the long run.  Those pushy Recruiters who cut corners and do whatever it takes to get a placement will do well in the short-term.  They’ll make a lot of placements quickly and their commission will get high.  However, in the long run success for them won’t last.  The candidates they pushed into accepting jobs will eventually leave.  They’ll leave for the opportunity that they were looking for the whole time.  I’ve seen countless Pushy Recruiters jump up in ranks quickly, but they always fizzle out.  I can’t point at one single circumstance where they were successful in the long run.  They all burned out and left Recruiting because they couldn’t maintain.

So my advice to Recruiters is to sell, and sell hard.  If you can’t sell as a Recruiter you won’t be successful.  But make sure you’re making the right sale.  Sell yourself first.  Learn what your customer wants and sell to their needs.  Become a resource for them.  Don’t be afraid to talk candidates out of a job.  Don’t be afraid to let the candidate tell you no.  Remember that the relationships you build with that consultative approach will benefit you in the long run way more than making the quick and sloppy placement now.  You will gain a trusted addition to your professional network.  If you can’t build and sell your own brand as a Recruiter, if you can’t build a strong professional reputation and a strong pipeline of trusted professional contacts, your career as a Recruiter won’t last.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on twitter @RecruiterMann23

Get Rhythm

I had a hard time trying to think of what topic to cover in my next blog.  I was distracted by a lot of issues at work and couldn’t find myself getting excited to write about any particular topic.  Typically when I am trying to come up with a topic to write about, I simply reflect on my work and begin writing about something relevant that’s happening to me in which I feel my readers would benefit.  But I didn’t think anyone would want to hear about the woes of Sequestration, or all of the combative emails I’ve been dealing with lately, or a poor showing at an interview event, or the adversarial hiring manager.  Big deal, I thought, everyone deals with times like that and nobody wants to hear me complain.

While I was reflecting on that I received an email from my fiance, and in that email she mentioned how her brother who has just recently entered the workforce was having a hard time getting acclimated to the “real world” after graduating college.  He wasn’t sure if he chose the right profession.  He couldn’t see himself doing the same mundane tasks for the rest of his professional career.  Had he jumped into the job too soon?  Had his major betrayed him – was this field really not as fun as the coursework was?  (Coursework he took in a college setting with friends and co-eds.)

I wrote him a lengthy email with my advice to his situation and offered to help where I could.  After I finished writing to him, I turned my attention back to this blog.  What could I possibly write about?  My thoughts quickly wandered back to my frustrations at work, and then to my future brother-in-laws concerns at his job, and back and forth and back and forth.  Then it dawned on me, we could both benefit from the same advice.  And that advice is the exact topic I suddenly wanted to write about here on this blog – because it applies to all of us.

That advice, and the topic of this blog, is simply to “Get Rhythm”.  As you can probably guess, I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan- and that is who gave me that advice.  In his song about optimism, titled “Get Rhythm”, Johnny tells the story of a young shoe shine boy who is working hard at his tedious job.  Johnny asks the boy how he keeps from getting the blues, and the boy responds by telling Johnny that he gets rhythm to combat the hard times.

I think that is fantastic advice, and I want to echo that to you.  I don’t necessarily think you should start singing out loud at work, but hey…if it helps!  The rhythm that I’m referring to is a rhythm of work.  When things are hard, when you’re dealing with a particularly frustrating day at work, just lower your head and get into the rhythm of your job.

For my future brother-in-laws situation I told him to give his job some time.  He needs to realize that this is just the first step towards obtaining his goals.  He needs to get rhythm!  He needs to lower his head and learn the industry, excel at his current role and ask to take on more responsibility.  Only then can he determine if he’s in the right field.  If he isn’t, he’ll have excellent references from his bosses due to his performance.  And if it turns out he is in the right field, he’ll be well on his way from getting himself promoted out of that tedious shoe-shining job and into something bigger.  The best way to get promoted into the job you want is to perform those job duties now.

For my current frustrations at work, all I needed to do was get rhythm.  And rhythm I got.  I have a lot of bad days, and if I let them get me down I’d never have any good days.  Instead, I leaned forward and continued with the rhythm of my work.  I kept on performing, and I kept on working.  Things have already improved, I just had another hiring manager stop by to tell me how pleased he was with the interview he just got out of.  He thanked me for my tireless effort and for finding the perfect candidate for his opening.  All of those frustrations from earlier have dissipated and now I’m re-engaged and focused…and possibly humming a bit.

So when you’re having a bad day, or you’re unsure of where your career is headed, just take a moment to get rhythm.  Don’t let it get you down, keep leaning forward and stay positive.  Do what you do best.  You’re in control, and you’ll get through it!

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

The Great Cover Letter Debate

During a talk with some industry peers last month, the topic of cover letters came up and it was a bit of a heated debate.  A quick entry of “cover letter” into your favorite search engine will show that the subject of a cover letter is a widely disputed subject in the world of job searching.  The majority of the articles and blogs that I read adamantly defended cover letters and implored the job seeker to make one.  Some of the articles demanded that multiple cover letters be made.  I found myself reflecting on the subject a lot lately, and realized that I have never had a clear cut stance on cover letters.  I’ve never been for them or against them.  I was cover letter neutral, and now I’m trying to pick a side.

I do see the value in cover letters.  I believe that they allow you to express your interest in an industry, a company, and a specific job.  They allow you to highlight your qualifications that make you a great fit for the job you’re interviewing for.  Interviewing for a job is a competition, and during today’s job market it is an increasingly tough competition.  Like any competition, you want to set yourself apart.  You want to show that differentiator that makes you the clear choice over all of those other job seekers.  You want to separate yourself from the pack and show your value.  I believe a cover letter in theory does provide you with that opportunity.  It allows you to concisely state why you are the winning candidate.

Cover letters can also have the opposite impact.  If a cover letter is not formatted concisely, it can negatively impact your standings.  If you blabber on about how great you are, or you make no real connection to the job, you just simply restate the information in your resume…then the cover letter adds no value.  Grammar mistakes, arrogance, redundancy, and rambling facts can all sneak their way onto your cover letter.  You might be a great match for the position, but the cover letter that promised to get you a seat at the interview table might actually be telling the hiring manager NOT to bring you in.

So I can see both sides of the argument.  Both sides make sense to me; I can see how a cover letter can aid in your job search and I can see how a cover letter can be detrimental to your job search.  So do I side with those who are Pro-Cover Letter or those who are Anti-Cover Letter?

To answer that question I had to think about my own personal experiences with cover letters.  Since my first job at the age of 14 all the way to my current job, I’ve never used a cover letter.  I’ve certainly applied the theories behind cover letters – I’ve tailored my resume to the job I wanted and I’ve always used an “objective” section that changes with each job submission I’ve sent…but I’ve never actually used a cover letter before.  Just because I don’t personally use them doesn’t mean I’m necessarily against cover letters.  I still didn’t have an answer to where I stood so I had to dig even deeper.

I started thinking about my experience as a recruiter and how I viewed cover letters professionally.  The realization that I came to was similar to my personal experience.  Professionally, I very rarely spend much time reading a cover letter.  I almost always go right for the main course and dive into the resume looking at buzz words, job titles, and dates.  Now, perhaps later on I’ll go back and read the cover letter out of curiosity…but that would be after I’ve already reviewed the resume and spoken to the job seeker.  It doesn’t have any impact on whether or not I consider the job seeker for the job.

The fact is that you only have a 17% chance that your cover letter will be read, or in my case an 83% chance it won’t be read.  In today’s world of job boards, online applications, and hundreds of applicants per job the average time spent looking at a resume is 5-7 seconds.  Now, you may read that and say “well I had better make a great cover letter since they read that first” assuming that those 5-7 seconds will be used getting through the cover letter.  However, I would subscribe to the theory that those 5-7 seconds are much better spent on your actual resume.

In conclusion I would surmise that if I were forced to pick a side, I would pick against cover letters.  I simply don’t feel that they add any additional value to your application, but they can take value away.  However that is my own personal and professional opinion.  It would appear based on my previously mentioned internet searches of this topic that I may be out numbered.  So please don’t let me sway you one way or the other – I simply wanted to finally pick a side.  Feel free to send me your cover letter, I’m more than happy to toss it to the side while I read you resume.

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Please send any questions or comments to askrecruitermann@gmail.com.  Be sure to also follow me on Twitter @RecruiterMann23

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